Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to visit Beijing amid tension

Charlene Craig
October 5, 2018

The operation was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing's efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters, where Chinese, Japanese and some Southeast Asian navies operate.

The bitter trade dispute between China and the U.S.is increasingly spilling into the military domain, with a risky incident in the South China Sea highlighting the dangers of souring relations. "We will not stand down", the speech will say.

The incident took place on September 30th in the South China Sea, in the Spratly islands chain near Gaven and Johnson Reefs.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying issued a similar statement criticizing the US provocation. Images released by the U.S. Navy appear to show the Chinese warship pulling in front of USS Decatur, which veered off to avoid a crash.

The Chinese have laid claim to a series of small islands and reefs in the South China Sea, infuriating neighbouring countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines.

The US military is reportedly planning to send US warships, combat aircraft, and troops through the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait in November in a series of exercises created to send a message to Beijing.

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The Chinese warship moves ahead of its U.S. counterpart after forcing the United States ship to perform a "radical maneuver", Schuster said.

The proposal, which comes at a time of heightened tensions between the United States and China, has yet to be approved.

The Chinese military has repeatedly issued warnings to USA and other foreign aircraft that venture too close to areas they claim in the region, many of which have been armed with air defense systems.

While some observers have expressed concern, noting that the situation is escalating to unsafe levels, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said the USA and China simply need to learn to sort out their differences.

The US takes no official position on the competing claims by countries for territories located in the South China Sea.

The behavior 'gravely threatens China's sovereignty and security, gravely damages relations between China and the USA and their militaries, and gravely injures regional peace and stability'.

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Mattis this week acknowledged "tension points" between the USA and China, but told reporters he did not "see it getting worse".

The United States and China are embroiled in a trade war, sparked by Trump's accusations that China has long sought to steal US intellectual property, limit access to its own market and unfairly subsidize state-owned companies.

Such freedom-of-navigation operations have been somewhat routine near man-made reefs and islands that China has militarized in the South China Sea.

US Vice-President Mike Pence will give China a blunt warning on Thursday that the United States will not back down from what Washington sees as Chinese intimidation in the South China Sea.

Two B-52s flew over the South China Sea last week in what the Pentagon called a routine mission.

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